Date squares, pastry, bread, custard, butterscotch pie, cinnamon rolls and biscuits were just a few of my mother’s baking specialties. Everything she made melted in your mouth. Sadly, I have never been able to duplicate any of them because my sweet little mother did not use recipes.
Recently, Allison and I were talking about Nanny Roache’s biscuits and the whole affair turned into a bit of a funny, one person story or monologue by mom. I have never tried something like this, so you will be my guinea pig audience. Then, when I become a regular on 22 Minutes, you will be able to say you knew me before I was rich and famous. Just call me “Money Bags.”
Saturday Afternoon in Mrs. Sarah Roache’s Kitchen
I was at quiltin’ circle over in Osborne on Monday and half the women were doin’ more braggin’ about their biscuits than quiltin’. They were busy writin’ down recipes, but I just kept right on quiltin’ and mindin’ my own business until Ruby spoke up, “Sarah, how do you make your biscuits?”
Oh my land, what kind of a woman needs a recipe for biscuits? To tell the truth, I couldn’t really tell her because I don’t use a recipe, so I made up something right on the spot.
Now one thing you need a good big bowl. I use the one that came with our Wearever pots and pans Gene bought from a door-to-door salesman back in 1949.
Francis and Melda are Some Bad
Oh, before you get started, put on your hairnet and apron. Well, ain’t that strange? I always hang my hairnet in the same place and it’s gone. I’m willin’ to bet that Francis and Melda did somethin’ with it. The pair of them is some bad. I don’t know which one is worse.
I’ve got a sneakin’ suspicion they took it down to Caroline and Darius’. They got an old tame sheep named Nancy down there and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if old Nancy is trottin’ around the hill wearing my hairnet because Francis and Melda thought that was right funny. The pair of them is some bad. I hope they don’t end up in Reform School.
Well, I’ll have to tie my hair up with a bandanna and don’t forget to put on your apron. I noticed that young women today don’t even wear aprons. They have automatic washers and dryers, but we had it hard with them old wringer washers and nothin’ but a clothesline in the dead of winter. You know, I bet that at least one kid in every family in West Head put their arm through the wringer. There was times I was tempted to put Francis and Melda through the wringer. They was some kinda bad.
There’ll Be Nothing Bobbing on My Booosum
Now, where’s my glasses? I was talkin’ on the phone with my sister, Norma, up in Toronto and she told me to go to Zellers and buy chains that hook onto your glasses. They just hang around your neck when you don’t need them. I didn’t like the sound of that. Did that mean they’d be bobbin’ up and down on my boooosum when I’m not wearin’ ‘em? Yep. That’s the last thing I need. Oh my land, I’d be ravin’ crazy. Might as well use a pair of Gene’s. He’s got more glasses than brains.
Sarah Roache’s Biscuit Instructions
Okay, the first thing you do is put the flour in a big bowl until it looks like the right amount. I’m guessin’ it’s about four or five cups of Robinhood. Make sure you use Robinhood. I heard there’s bugs like grasshoppers ground up into that cheap stuff.
Then mix in the bakin’ powder. Don’t use that no name stuff and that bulk stuff is worse. It’s apt to be ten years old. You gotta use Magic Baking Powder. It don’t matter if it says level or heapin’ spoonfuls, I use heapin’ ones. You need a lot, like 6 or 7 or 8 spoonfuls and you might as well throw in a little salt.
It’s time to add a big blob of Tenderflake lard. I suppose it’s it between 2/3 and a cup. It has to be Tenderflake. I don’t trust them bargain brands. I read in the Gossip Paper they make that cheap stuff with bear fat from China. Anyway, put in some big spoonfuls. You don’t need them fancy pastry blenders or forks or knives. I use my fingers so I know when the dough feels just right…holds together…kinda crumbly.
You’ll get a good laugh out of this one. Gene has a foolish old goat he milks and, of course, Francis and Melda won’t drink it. They whine about it tastin’ funny, but I fooled them. I’m a lot smarter than they think. I poured it in an empty “Farmers” milk carton and they don’t know the difference. Goat’s milk makes the finest kind of biscuits. I add close to two cups and mix it until the dough feels right…not too sticky, not too dry. When it’s ready, I knead it a few times and roll out the dough good and thick. I use a tomato paste can or small glass to cut them out and put’ em close together on a baking sheet.
No Ordinary Fire for Biscuits
You’ve gotta have a good fire for biscuits; 350° ain’t no good and I don’t think those new-fangled ‘lectric stoves do a good job. I love my old Kemac. Load ‘er up with an armload of good wood, alders are the best, until you get ‘er up to a solid 450°. You know something? Gene’s sister, Edith, can tell the temperature by putting her arm in the oven because the temperature whatchamacallit on her stove don’t work. She’s some smart and can she ever bake. Biggest loaves of bread I ever seen. Put your biscuits in and leave ‘em until they’re good and brown, twenty minutes or so.
While they’re still hot, spread ‘em with molasses, the real stuff, Crosby’s Fine Molasses, not that no name junk. And would you believe, I have to hide ‘em from Francis and Melda or they’d eat every last one and that’s no lie? The two of them are some bad. I don’t know what’s goin’ to become of them.
I don’t know if you can follow this or not, but you’ll know when the dough feels just right. Oh, I forgot somethin’. Don’t put no sugar in your biscuits or they’ll taste right sickly. I hope they turn out for you.
Another Biscuit Recipe
Although I was unable duplicate Mom’s recipe, a Bobcaygeon friend gave me her biscuit recipe that comes very close. You might want to give them a try.
4 cups all purpose flour
8 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup lard
2 cups buttermilk
Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes.